Our new allotment.

Happy days are back in the mandycharlie household now we are back onto an allotment. Hubby has finished putting together our greenhouse, his 4th, he’s getting quite quick at putting them together now. It feels perfect as a retirement hobby, fresh air, exercise, fresh fruit and vegetables and somewhere that makes us happy to go. I think one of the problems in retirement is filling the days and I know we will never tire of trundling up to the plot to do the odd job or chat to some of the other allotment holders. Quite a community develops by the end of the gardening year before a biting wind and freezing temperatures often means one only sees the odd glimpse of a person in the distance when one is popping up to get some vegetables for Sunday lunch.

Our allotment is within less than a five minute walk, I think we live closer than anyone else on the site, which makes it a pleasure to walk up to do the watering once (or even twice, depending on the heat) a day during the height of the tomato growing season.  Those who have read my allotment blog before will remember my love of the humble tomato, and just how many I can cram into a greenhouse, for those that don’t know me as well, LOTS!

Today I started to plant seeds, while hubby got the paraffin heater going and started to weed out all of the fruit bushes that we have.

I planted,,,,Rocket, chives, coriander, salad bowl lettuce, tomatoes gardeners delight and san marzano which is a lovely big plum, chilli’s, cucumber, brussel sprouts, cauliflower,  courgettes, leeks, sunflowers, marigolds, nasturtium, alpine strawberries, sugar snaps, garden peas, climbing beans and more sugarsnaps.  I wrote it all down in my Hobonichi diary with all the varieties and recommendations as to when to resow to ensure a continuation of the crop and toddled off home in the pouring rain.. laughing,,  memories revived of just how often I walked home in the rain as I always want to stay just another five minutes. As you can see there is a fair bit of weeding to do, but apart from that the plot is in good nick. The soil is a lovely rich dark colour, it has been well looked after in the past. We have two areas ready to go, one perfect for the spuds which are now chitting on the kitchen window sill. Hubby seems happy enough. And my shed is a wonderful heath robinson affair, half brick, half wood. It is very mandycharlie and I love it.

I think we are going to be happy here.

Mondays in London.

I’ve been having a bit of a jolly on a Monday for the last ten weeks in London. It all started when I was mooching through the Royal Academy of Arts website just before Christmas and came upon their series of lecturers called From Plate to Palette: a history of food in art. Well of of course my interest was piqued and my lovely hubby suggested it could be my Christmas present. Happy days all round.

If I have to be honest and these are just my thoughts, a couple of lectures just didn’t hit the spot, but its a new course and that happens. But when they did, the stars sparkled brightly and eagles soared as we reached heady heights of new understandings. Then it was blissful and worth every single penny. I think the most enjoyable lecturer and what we had all come to see was beautiful pictures of food, was from Quentin Buvelot, Senior Curator, Mauritshuis, The Hague.  His enthusiasm and knowledge was captivating, I could have spent many hours listening to him as we explored the Dutch still life masters together. It was a memorable experience to have an expert highlight the hidden secrets in the grand masters of Clara Peeters and Osias Beert with such passion. One can only hope that he comes over and lectures in the UK again, he is not to be missed.

There were other lecturers that kept me spell bound, Georgina Gold who before starting her own company was a Senior Director in the Impressionist and Modern Art department of Sotheby’s in London – as well as long and illustrious career in Sotheby’s in Australia and many other posts.  Her talk on the impressionists was mesmerising to the point that at the end of the lecture I looked down at my notes and found I hadn’t made any. I think we all bounced out of the lecture that day, it was brilliant.

Katy Deepwell, Professor of Contemporary Art, Theory and Criticism, Middlesex University gave me new insites into art and feminism.  It was at this point that I realised that I really know nothing about feminism and art, so managed to make enough notes to explore that area further.

And of course I enjoyed the photography in week 9, by Susan Bright, lots to think about photographically speaking. Susan Bright gave us a huge amount of photographers to explore, I shall be going through my notes for a long time to come from this lecture.

And I think that is the point of it, of coming to something like a lecture. On face value, its an hour or two and depending on the day,  your mood set or the lecturer will depend on how well you receive it. But if the lecturer can find a way of disseminating the information through to you,  (and it does help that the RA gave us full notes including photographs after the lecture)  it filters through for years to come. I know in the past I have been to lectures that have changed my outlook and my life completely, I see the world through different eyes, because of a lecture.

The amount of information given from the Plate to Palette lectures was huge, and now I am going to go through my notes for the next few months, probably much longer, taking my time, buying books, seeing art exhibitions, reading further.  Who knows where it will take me and thats the part I love the most.